When Donald Trump hired John Bolton as national security adviser, Europe and the rest of the world understood immediately what it meant: the return to George W. Bush style foreign policy and a withdrawal of America as a reliable partner to negotiate with. Bolton, a psychopathic war monger with the emotional intelligence of an amoeba, understands the world as a high school bully would. The weak and poor are to be exploited, violence must be used to project power, and dominance must be maintained at all costs.
Unfortunately for the mustachioed Neo Con, the world is a very different place from the one he wielded so much power in, and he is working for an incompetent egomaniac with no understanding of geo politics or diplomacy. Europe, China and Russia no longer take orders from Washington — a result of America’s severely diminished standing in the world after the Iraq war and George W. Bush’s spectacular foreign policy failings. Bolton, who was US ambassador to the UN under Bush, played a large role in overplaying America’s hand and isolating it from the rest of the world.
America might have the biggest military in the world, but its economy no longer reigns supreme. China is now the world’s biggest economy, and the EU is growing at a faster, more sustainable rate than the US. Power is distributed far more evenly than it was 15 years ago, and thanks to President Obama, the US was beginning to carve out a much more productive, albeit less important role in the global community. In John Bolton’s limited mind though, he still believes that when he says “jump” the rest of the world must comply.
On Sunday, Bolton warned European nations that Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal meant that companies could face sanctions if they continued to do business in Iran.
“The consequences of American sanctions go way beyond goods shipped by American companies because of our technology licenses to many other countries and businesses around the world,” Bolton told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union”. “As those sanctions kick in, it will have an even broader effect as well. I think the Europeans will see that it’s in their interest, ultimately, to come along with us.”
When asked whether this mean sanctions, Bolton told Tapper that “It depends on the conduct of other governments.”
Richard Grenell, Trump’s new ambassador to Berlin, also warned his host country via a tweet last week that: “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.”
The Trump administration is betting that European nations will eventually submit to America’s demands, not wanting to cut themselves off from US markets. This, like everything Trump does, is woefully shortsighted and misguided. The notion that Europe and the rest of the world will simply sit back and allow Trump to dictate whom they can and can’t do business with is a relic of Bush era thinking and bears no relation to global power dynamics in 2018. All Trump and Bolton are doing is pushing away allies and making American more irrelevant on the world scene by the day. European leaders are openly discussing countermeasures to America’s sanctions, and China stands to make significant gains in its own crude oil trading — a factor Trump and his team of dunderheads did not factor in.
“We have to work among ourselves in Europe to defend our European economic sovereignty,” said French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire in response to the sanctions. “Do we want to be a vassal that obeys and jumps to attention?”
The answer is no, and Trump and his administration will learn this the hard way — or not, if you are John Bolton and still wedded to an outdated political philosophy that will go down as one of the most idiotic in history.
Europe, China and the rest of the Iran nuclear deal co-signers will hit back with overt countermeasures — they will bide their time and look to construct a deal that does not include the United States and hits the country in ways he won’t understand until it is too late. China has already struck back at Trump over his tariff war by going after industries in regions crucial for the his re-election in 2020. Trump previously stated that a trade war with China would be “good and easy to win,” for America, seemingly oblivious to the law of cause and effect. The blowback from the Iran nuclear deal fallout will be equally as toxic for the president, and given he has no plan to replace the deal with, the ramifications could be far more serious.
Trump and Bolton’s gleeful destruction of international agreements plays well with the hardline Republican base and extremists in other countries (Iran’s militants were jubilant after the announcement was made), but the rest of the world is appalled by their behavior. America’s cavalier attitude towards the rest of the planet has already cost the country dearly in terms of its global standing, and America’s steroid infused bullying under Trump is making it infinitely worse. 15 years ago, the world was resigned to taking marching orders from the US, but the current landscape is no so forgiving of American intransigence.
Just as John Bolton left a legacy of failure and disaster under Bush, he is following the same path under Trump, but this time with a far less powerful country. While the enemies of peace may have won today, their victory is an empty one that the rest of the world will put right in the coming months, and only to the detriment of the United States.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.